Stockholm Reunion Memories – June 28 to July 3, 2023
Thirteen years ago, when Mikael proposed hosting a reunion in Sweden, some of us were quite skeptical. After all, Mikael didn’t even attend Les Roches, Annie did. And although it was a group effort by him, Annie, and their children Mattias and Malin, this was Mikael’s signature moment to shine, his Herculean moment in the sun that never set. And so, 48 years after Annie attended Pres Fleuris, her husband Mikael was awarded honorary alumnus status, on the condition that he accept the blemish of having been expelled by a school he never attended!
The sun never really set during this reunion in Stockholm, and therefore how could we? There was so much to do and feel and see and talk about, and the sun seemed to remind us that at times like these, it was best to just stay up. So that’s what we did. At 2 AM after the soiree, there was still enough daylight for a tired sun to allow us to stumble to our respective houses.
This group of about 45 alumni was the right size for the venues — Stockholm for the first three days and sprawling 1,000-acre estate of Ekhamn 30 miles north of Stockholm. Intimate enough so we could all get to know each other better or for the first time, yet large enough to gather in smaller groups based on our common historic and geographical pasts.
Who could have dreamed that 33 years after our first reunion in the Bahamas, we’d be celebrating our 16th, with a promise of at least two more reunions to follow over the next two years? We may be well into our 60’s and 70’s, but this family of LR/PF alumni is as strong as ever. That became clear during one of our dinners when we regaled each other with those distant memories, many of them at least partially true. The story of the events of a Frank Zappa concert in Montreux in 1971 that was memorialized by the song Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, expertly described by Paul Wirth and the Brouwer twins. Or the various ways we tried to sneak alcohol into the school. Or the touching story of how the late Roberto Grisotti made up for a mistake denying Swagat Bam a birthday cake 30 years earlier by bringing him one at a reunion in Crans.
Let’s face it, though, these reunions are now no longer to relive those fading memories. Instead, it is about making new ones, sharing our current journeys, and our wishes for the next – and possibly final – chapter of our amazing lives. We honored those alumni whose journeys ended too soon. We paid respect to our teachers, represented by Irène and Maja at the reunion, and those who are still alive – Cornelia, and Denis and Joy Hill among them.
Highlights of this reunion:
- A day-long boat tour of the archipelago with stops at various islands to explore the natural beauty and history of the region with an expert guide. We dined on local cuisine of Swedish meatballs and herring prepared in 3 ways.
- A visit to the Vasa museum, a tribute to a warship that sank on its maiden voyage only a few hundred yards from its dock 395 years ago and then raised and restored by descendants of master craftsmen and women ten generations later. Leave it to the Swedes to make a good thing out of an old tragedy.
- A visit to the ABBA museum. Mamma mia!
- A trip to Uppsala and the oldest university in Sweden, and the medieval buildings surrounding it expertly narrated by Hans Odöö taking on the role of Carl Linnaeus, the father of Botany and Uppsala’s favorite character.
- A visit to the Baroque castle across the lake from the Bengtson farm.
- The Promenade Obligatoire through the Bengtsons’ 1,000 acre forest.
- The soiree with live music by Jan Johansen, who placed 3rd in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995, and gave a perfect rendition of Smoke On the Water.
- A rousing game of Name That Tune brought fierce competition among three teams as we reached deep between the wrinkles of our brains to identify the name of songs and their artists from just a few notes played on the speaker.
As the reunion came to an end, Marie presented a proposal on behalf of Thomas Barth to host a reunion in September 2024 in St. Moritz. We heartily accepted Thomas’s kind offer, many of us knowing what a fabulous job he did hosting a previous reunion there 10 years ago. More information to follow, including the possibility of an extended trip to the old school in Bluche-sur-Sierre.
Brendan Foulkes and his wife of 40 years Rosie proposed hosting another reunion in the Bahamas, in 2025, some 35 years after they hosted the first reunion there. They offered flags and trinkets to the Bengtson family commemorating the 50th anniversary of their independence. The group was overjoyed at the prospect of a second reunion, since we have never ever had a backlog of reunions.
The reunion committee encouraged alumni to join the committee so that we can be better represented over the 24 years of the school’s existence. Please reach out to any committee member if you’re interested.
The official part of the reunion was over Monday morning. But wait, there was more! Mikael had proposed an additional 4-night trip to the far north of Sweden to anyone who wanted a bit more adventure. That afternoon, twelve reunion participants flew to Kiruna and then drove to Abisko, located on beautiful Lake Torneträsk, 200 km north of the arctic circle. There were mountain hikes, hot tubs, rides on chair lifts, saunas, and a visit to nearby Norway.
For those of us who attended this reunion, it was an unforgettable experience – perhaps the most intimate and emotional gathering of alumni ever. If you have a few good pictures, please send them to Mikael to post on the FoB website.
Thanks to the spouses, partners and children of alumni who came to support us. Thank you, Bengtson family for sharing your warm home and your amazing country with us.
Pradeep Kapadia, Tom Ventser, Katy Cantor & Sharon Taylor Baumann on behalf of the Reunion Team
July 19, 2023
We have gathered a lot of photos from the reunion in an album at Google Photo. Click here to view them.